The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made history yesterday by grabbing both speaker and deputy speaker seats in the Greater Tainan City Council, as well as deputy speaker seats in the Taipei and Greater Kaohsiung City Councils.
Mayors and councilors in the country’s five special municipalities — Taipei, New Taipei (新北市, the proposed name of the upgraded Taipei County), Greater Taichung, Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohisung — were sworn in yesterday morning, followed by elections for city council speakers and deputy speakers.
While local council heads are traditionally dominated by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and independent councilors, the DPP, for the first time in the nation’s history, took both the speaker and deputy speaker seats in the Greater Tainan City Council, as well as deputy speaker seats in the Taipei and Greater Kaohsiung City Councils.
In Taipei City, the incumbent council speaker, Wu Bi-chu (吳碧珠), of the KMT garnered 37 seats and won the seat for the fourth time, while her DPP rival Lee Chien-chang (李建昌) received 32 votes.
However, DPP councilor Chou Po-ya (周柏雅) defeated the incumbent deputy speaker Chen Chin-hsiang (陳錦祥) by a 30 to 29 margin, making him the first-ever DPP member to serve as deputy speaker of Taipei City Council.
The KMT accounted for 30 of all 62 Taipei City councilors, while the DPP garnered 23 seats. There are eight councilors from the New Party, People First Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union, and one independent councilor.
DPP Taipei City councilors began cheering when the election result was announced, while the KMT councilors appeared surprised.
KMT spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said the party will look into the situation and punish party councilors who failed to vote for KMT candidates.
The KMT’s Taipei branch director Pan Chia-sen (潘家森) said the party “trusted party members too much” and did not send party staff to oversee the voting.
Pan said about five to seven KMT members voted for Chou in the election, and the party will revoke the membership of those who violated party regulations and supported DPP candidates in the election.
New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) said all three party councilors voted for Chen in the election, urging the KMT to offer an explanation on the surprising defeat.
Chou, a veteran city councilor who is in his sixth term, promised to maintain neutrality as the vice speaker and enhance -communication between the KMT and the DPP in the council.
In Greater Tainan, after a three-hour delay because councilors could not agree on where the ballot box should be placed, DPP Greater Tainan Councilor Lai Mei-hui (賴美惠) won the speaker seat with 30 votes from her colleagues against independent councilor Wu Chien-pao’s (吳健保) 21 votes, and became not only the first DPP member to be elected to a special municipality council speaker seat, but also the first female council speaker in the Tainan City Council.
Being the only candidate for deputy speaker in the Greater Tainan Council, DPP councilor Kuo Hsin-liang (郭信良) won the seat with 30 votes.
In the Greater Kaohsiung Council, the KMT’s Hsu Kun-yuan (許崑源) grabbed the speaker seat with 33 votes, defeating his DPP rival Kang Yu-cheng (康裕成) by only two votes.
However, after the DPP’s Tsai Chang-ta (蔡昌達) and the KMT’s Lu Shu-mei (陸淑美) tied in two rounds of voting for the position of deputy speaker, Tsai eventually won the seat through lot drawing.